ArvinMeritor‘s Chairman, CEO and President Chip McClure has announced that the company is committed to remaining a strong and growing manufacturer and supplier in South America.

Addressing a group of South American journalists, he said the company is focused on becoming a global commercial vehicle company with expanded leadership in original equipment and aftermarket for both the on- and off-highway global markets.

McClure said the company is planning an up to a US$10m investment for its commercial vehicle business in Brazil, which will support its expansion into new product segments as well as new manufacturing technology like advanced gear-making and efficient, high-quality equipment to make parts and components.

While ArvinMeritor is impacted by unprecedented economic changes, its production in South America is up nine percent quarter-over-quarter.

“Our growth strategy involves bringing new products and technology to South America,” said McClure. “With a rich 100-year history, we are always exploring new opportunities that will meet our customers’ needs. With the right products and a dedicated and talented workforce, ArvinMeritor will continue to be a strong commercial vehicle supplier in Brazil and across the continent.”

According to McClure, ArvinMeritor’s success in the region can be attributed to its experienced South American management team: Antonio Rossi, director – axle operations; Silvio Barros, director – sales and marketing; Angelo Morino, director – aftermarket; Jose M. Fernandes – director procurement; and Adalberto Momi, director – finance.

Also acknowledging the contributions of its joint venture companies – Freios Master and Suspensys – with the Randon Corp., McClure reinforced the importance of its ongoing collaboration with Randon and its management team.

“ArvinMeritor has renewed its commitment to further strengthening its customer-focused relationship and business strategy with Randon,” he said. Both joint ventures are based in Caxias do Sul, Brazil.

ArvinMeritor announced last week that it had entered into an agreement to sell its Wheels business to Iochpe-Maxion, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based producer of wheels and frames for commercial vehicles, railway freight cars and castings. The sale is expected to close by the end of 2009.

“Iochpe-Maxion approached us about acquiring this asset and we determined that selling it was in the best interest in terms of ArvinMeritor’s strategy and the Wheels businesses’ long-term growth,” said McClure. “This new owner will invest in Wheels and the valuable, talented people who support it.

“The Fumagalli wheel brand has a 60-year heritage and holds significant meaning for the global customer base,” he said. “This transaction supports our efforts to move our goal of becoming a commercial vehicle company while at the same time offering Wheels an exciting new future as a strategic core business in the Iochpe-Maxion portfolio. We are grateful for the significant contributions the people of this business made to the success of our company. The White Shirt culture will continue to be recognized as a benchmark for best-in-class manufacturing initiatives.”

The Wheels business operates manufacturing facilities in Limeira, Brazil and San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

ArvinMeritor’s Body Systems business currently continues to be part of its portfolio. “As part of our transformation strategy to continue to divest our Light Vehicle Systems businesses, we intend to pursue the sale of our Body Systems business when market conditions support such actions,” said McClure.

For original equipment vehicle manufacturers in South America, ArvinMeritor manufactures and supplies front steer axles, drive axles (single and tandem drive), bus axles (low floor and entry platforms), and cab suspension systems. In collaboration with its joint ventures, Freios Master and Suspensys, ArvinMeritor supplies drum brakes, hubs, trailer and truck suspensions and trailer axles. The companies provide aftermarket distributors with axle parts such as precision axle gear forgings, bearings, oil seals, air brakes, friction material, brake hardware, kingpin kits, shock absorbers, trailer axles, suspension systems and wheels.